One Jewish Boy by Stephen Laughton, which opened in the West End just as theatres were forced to close, is being made available to watch online.
Amidst an increasing climate of far right ideology worldwide and following a doubling of hate-crime incidents in the UK, One Jewish Boy makes an important return, this time to small screens everywhere. Written as an urgent response to overt antisemitism, this compelling two-hander explores a young family’s struggle against fear, prejudice and identity looking at the inheritances that haunt us.
Written by multi-award winning writer Stephen Laughton, current Writer in Residence for the Astrophysics Department at the American Museum of Natural History, the visceral, biting play was due to run in the West End for four weeks only following its Old Red Lion Theatre sell-out success in December 2018/January 2019. The play opened as the scale of the coronavirus crisis hit and closed with the rest of London’s West End after only five days.
Set in London, Europe and New York, One Jewish Boy captures key moments over a ten-year relationship between Jesse, a nice Jewish boy from North London and the no-so Jewish Alex, the mixed heritage woman he falls desperately in love with. Jesse is paranoid and frightened which is messing up his relationship, his job, his daughter and his life. He has every reason to be frightened. Antisemitism rears its ugly head in a horrific way every 70 or so years, the last time it killed six million Jews, the time before that it resulted in their complete expulsion from eastern Europe – and with a 34% rise in violent assaults against Jewish people in the last year alone, Jesse can’t bear to think of what this might all mean. Not with a 9-month-old daughter to protect.
With antisemitism and racism rife in political parties and recent highly publicised hate-crime incidents, One Jewish Boy asks if the fear of hatred, could be worse than hate itself…?
Stephen Laughton said: “One Jewish Boy was written from a place of tangible fear in 2018. It’s a year after the first production and it feels like it’s getting worse, there’s been a doubling of attacks on Jewish people in the last few months, we’re less safe in our homes, in schools and on the street…there are times when I worry if we’re seeing history about to repeat itself.
“It felt more than really exciting to be able to give this play a chance to reach a wider audience in the West End – it felt important. Because anti-Semitism – in fact as we’ve seen in recent weeks – racism of all kinds just isn’t going away. But the world is suddenly in a really precarious place – the global pandemic closed the West End and the play only managed a week, which was heartbreaking. It was an amazing week and we found a new audience and our reviews were amazing, but sadly, like the world, One Jewish Boy was forced to close. What we’ve seen since has been a huge eye opener. The old systems which we’ve come to rely on, are shaky at best. Our foundations have been shook to the core. And maybe that’s no bad thing. The play has never more timely in this context – there’s absolute universality in its specificity here. Hate. Because of race, class, gender, sex, sexuality, religion. It has no place anymore. The isms and obias in society have to be broken down. The central tenant of One Jewish Boy is simple – f*ck the hate, don’t let the hate f*ck you. To be able to find a new platform for my little play, to be able to keep carrying this message forward, feels more urgent than ever.”
One Jewish Boy is available to stream here until Thursday 4th July 2020, tickets cost £7.50.